NORTH ANTRIM MLA Philip McGuigan has vowed to be back in the saddle as soon as possible following a racing accident earlier this month which saw him needing surgery on his collarbone.
With a six to eight week recovery period ahead of him, the Dunloy man is currently sleeping on a recliner chair whilst the discomfort is at its worst.
After taking up cycling eight years ago, the 45-year-old politician has had few scrapes and injuries, one in which he broke five ribs a number of years ago, though this latest fall in a small town just outside Derry has left him shaken, but not beaten!
Speaking to The Chronicle the Sinn Féin MLA said: “Some people may question the sanity at my age to be out racing bikes but it really is a fantastic sport. The buzz and adrenaline of competitive sport is something to be enjoyed regardless of age, it is fantastic and allows me to meet people from all parts and communities of the North to share our passion.
“Unfortunately at times riding a bike can be precarious. This is especially so in races that may have 80 cyclists pursuing their dream of victory over 60 miles of rural Irish roads. In this case I was among a group of cyclists from across the nine counties of Ulster ”
On the day of the accident Philip was taking part in an 'Open Race' organised by Strabane/Lifford cycling club.
They were going through St Johnston when the rider in front of him lost control of his bike after touching his front wheel on the back wheel of the cyclist ahead of him and came down.
He explained: “A combination of pulling on my front brakes and trying to avoid him caused me to go over the handlebars and hit the tarmac at 30mph.
“As I was flying through the air I was bracing myself not just for the impact of hitting the ground but also the impact as the wheels of other riders used my back, head and legs as a stopping ramp. “Sure enough the bang of the road was quickly followed by the wallop of other riders ploughing into me and falling over me.”
Once the split second realisation that he was still alive passed, the realisation that he was in horrendous pain soon followed.
He said: “My inability to breathe properly for a number of minutes was a bit worrying. St. John Ambulance staff attended to me very quickly and got me sorted so that a few of my teammates could drive me to Altnagelvin.
“After the X-rays the news that I had a broken collarbone wasn't a surprise but I was crest fallen to learn I also had three broken ribs.
“I had broken five ribs in a previous racing accident a number of years ago so I knew the pain and movement restrictions that lay ahead.
“I should say that my helmet did its job. It was cracked and now needs replaced but without it God knows what injuries I would have had.”
Although still nursing his wounds, Philip was quick to reassure fellow cycling enthusiasts: “For any cyclists reading this they will be less interested in my injuries and wanting to hear how my bike made it through the crash. Thankfully, it came through pretty much unscathed and ready for another day!”
For more on this story see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle